Thursday, February 21, 2008

Image, Beauty Fluid, and Credit Cards: Blue Rehashes the "Dress For The Job You Want, Not The Job You Have" Argument

You might ask, if you're of a cynical turn of mind, why I am dropping cash on beauty fluid and hair goo when I'm clearly strapped for money and facing upcoming medical bills and a potential relocation.

That woman should leave her hair alone, you might think. She should use Suave. Or better yet, Equate.

Well. Here's why.

The short answer is that I'm test-driving low-cost image enhancements so that I can look my best when I go on my upcoming Informational Interview Tour.

The longer answer is that I'm tired of always looking like the poor temp (or poor graduate student) in the corner, and that it's important enough to my future career that I transform myself, even if it takes a disproportionate amount of my income.

Every career book I've read mentions this, including Suze Orman (whose Young, Fabulous, and Broke is technically a money book, but contains a section on starting careers).

I was always the temp who had three pairs of polyester "office pants" which she strictly alternated against a handful of blouses and sweaters. (At one temp job, my supervisor actually gave me some clothing, under the guise of having accidentally received some that didn't fit.)

Prior to this adventure, a job was something I showed up to do, and as long as I did my work well enough, it didn't really matter what my shoes looked like -- or my nails -- as long as they were clean.

This time I'm playing it differently.

I had a graduate student classmate who, unlike the rest of us, always showed up for class and rehearsal looking like she stepped out of a catalog. She had a standing manipedi appointment at the local salon. Every few weeks, she would appear with a new outfit or accessory.

The other young grad women asked her about this, one night when we were all hanging out together. We asked her how she managed to fit her great style into our tiny grad stipend.

"I took out an extra loan to pay for this," she explained. "It's an investment in myself. People get hired based on image, and I figured out what my image needed to be."

And then she said something very interesting. "I'm never going to buy a house. Statistically, because of my age and the cities I plan to live in, I'll never be able to break into the housing market. So my image has become my house loan and my mortgage. I'm wearing my house on my back."

Guess who moved the furthest in her career, after graduation? My savvy, well-coiffed friend.

I don't want to take it quite that far; I'm wary of "wearing my house on my back." But, at the same time, I want to shed the Scrappy-Doo graduate student persona.

So, over the next three weeks before I leave for the DC tour, I'm going to trim my cascade of hair, get a $10 manicure at the local cosmetology school, and comparison-shop to find two professional-and-attractive interview outfits. No polyester. And yes, I'll put them on the credit card if I have to. It makes me cringe, but even Suze Orman says to make the investment.


Anonymous said...

I agree that spending on looking professional is a great idea, but could you not mention Suze Orman to corroborate that? Or at least, not mention her in the same sentence as "Finance" ?

If she is a finance whiz, then gee, I am a rocket scientist.

Blue said...


I suppose Ms. Orman has her end of the finance thing down.

(Sometimes I think the only way left to get rich quick is to write some self-help book and posit yourself as an expert. ^__^)

Ghazala Khan said...

Hello ,
I hope you are fine and carrying on the great work you have been doing for the Internet surfers. I am Ghazala Khan from The Pakistani Spectator (TPS), We at TPS throw a candid look on everything happening in and for Pakistan in the world. We are trying to contribute our humble share in the webosphere. Our aim is to foster peace, progress and harmony with passion.

We at TPS are carrying out a new series of interviews with the notable passionate bloggers, writers, and webmasters. In that regard, we would like to interview you, if you don't mind. Please send us your approval for your interview at my email address "ghazala.khi at", so that I could send you the Interview questions. We would be extremely grateful.


Ghazala Khan
The Pakistani Spectator

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I agree, she's smart about her money, or how to make it :)

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